Hastings Point medal winners joined in love and goodwill
VICTOR and Tessie Brill, of Hastings Point, have spent their lives helping others, from aiding Aboriginal communities through to caring for the dunes at their nearby beach.
"We don't look for rewards," the couple said.
"But we are humbled by the recognition."
Mrs Brill said the pair had lived very full lives.
"Our lives have been very busy and very interesting," she said.
Victor, 92, fought in the Second World War as a bomber pilot, something he is not proud of.
He's more proud of his work as a teacher and with the trade union movement, where he enjoyed a close friendship with trade union icon Jack Mundy.
A simple philosophy has governed his actions through life.
"A wise man once told me that I must always tell the truth," he recalled.
"I heeded that advice and it's done well by me."
Both he and Tessie, 90, have been heavily involved in Aboriginal affairs.
"I taught at an Aboriginal school at Cubawee for three years," he said.
"It was the most rewarding time of my life.
"It was the best class I ever taught.
"Five of the kids went to university, yet they couldn't speak fluent English when I first met them.
"I would have liked to have taught them their native tongue, but it wasn't possible in those days."
Tessie worked with the Aboriginal community to give them a voice.
She first became involved in 1957.
"It was all new to me and I had never even met an Aboriginal person before," she said.
"I was shocked to see how they lived in these settlements outside town.
"They were so poor and had no say in their futures. I did what I could to get them involved in the community and the decision-making processes that affected them. I taught them, but they also taught me.
"I was deeply saddened when I first realised their children could be taken from them and there was nothing they could do. They had no rights."
Tessie is a staunch feminist.
"I think I was a feminist before the term was coined," she said with a laughd.
"What else can a woman be?
"Otherwise you are denying who you are."
The couple founded Dunecare at Hastings Point and the group now has 10 members.
They said they had always supported each other. Their motto is:
"I am yours and you are mine in love. You are you and I am I in thought. Independents, we share our lives together."
They each will receive the Order of Australia Medal later this year for their work in the community.
COMING UP: We're profiling the Tweed's Australia Day award and medal winners. Read about Tweed citizen of the year Kevin Cheetham next week.